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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Tuesday
Jan152019

"Through Love Serve One Another" -- Galatians 5:7-15

The Tenth in a Series of Sermons on Galatians

Christ has set us free, which is why Paul exhorts the Galatians to stand firm in the face of those who seek to re-enslave them to the basic principles of the world.  The freedom purchased for us (at the cost of the blood and sweat of Jesus) is a precious gift, and is therefore not to be wasted by indulging the sins of the flesh.  Our freedom is to be manifest in love and service of our neighbors.  For Paul, the choice is clear.  Either we place our trust in the cross of Jesus Christ to find freedom–though it be a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks–or else we fall prey to the Judaizers who would abolish the offence of the cross in order to preach a false gospel of human merit, enslaving us under the guise of restraining human sinfulness and earning favor with God.

In Galatians 5:1, Paul’s emphasis begins to shift to more practical matters–specifically the nature of the Christian life.  Paul opens with an emphatic assertion; the purpose of the death of Jesus was to set believers free from the elementary principles of the world.  Christ’s merits provide us with what we need to be found “right” before God (“justified”).  To add the merit of human works (the basic principles of the world) to the merit earned for us by Christ is an affront to God.  Our liberty in Christ is the basis for the Christian life because, as Christians, we have clean consciences before God because the guilt of our sin has been washed away by the blood of Christ.  Since we are now in Christ, we are not bound by the Law as a means of earning a right standing with God.  Once justified, we are free to obey the Law of God since we are no longer slaves to sin.  This freedom is the basis for the Christian life.  

Christian liberty ensures that we are no longer bound by “things indifferent”– those things which are not expressly prohibited in Holy Scripture, summed up in the prohibitions, “do not taste,” “do not handle,” “do not touch” (cf. Colossians 2:20-23).  All those who have a right standing before God through faith in Christ are free from the elemental things which once enslaved us.  Unless we are clear about this, we will not be clear about how to live the Christian life.  The Judaizers in Galatia were having much success because they caused great confusion about the gospel, deceiving people to return them to slavery.

Given the fact that Christ died to set Christians free from the very things to which the Judaizers were trying to re-enslave them, Paul exhorts the Galatians, both at the beginning and end of this section, to stand firm against these false teachers, and not allow themselves to again bear the “yoke of slavery” (likely a Rabbinic phrase for obedience to the law of Moses).  If anyone does return to law-keeping as a means of earning favor with God, Paul says, they will fall from grace and be severed from Christ (Gal. 5:4).  This is no intermural debate.  Paul tells us that justification produces freedom in Christ.  Yet, the false gospel proclaimed by the Judaizers brings about slavery and bondage to the very things for which Christ died to free us.  If we don’t resist them we’ll end up re-enslaved back to basic principles.

But Paul is no libertine as the Judaizers were falsely contending.  You can just hear them telling the Galatians in Paul’s absence, “if Paul teaches that we are justified by faith alone and not by works, what place does that leave for good works?”  “If people really believe Paul, they will live lives characterized by sin and self indulgence, not good works.”  You can just imagine the Judaizers pointing out to everyone who will listen those immature individuals who use the gospel as an excuse to sin, as supposed proof that Paul’s gospel is dangerous.  Paul does not take the bait.  Instead, he preaches the gospel of free grace, justification by faith alone, and Christian liberty louder and longer.  This epistle is proof.  

The problem is not that the gospel leads to license, but that those who live in such fashion do not understand, or (in certain cases) truly do not believe the gospel.  Paul’s doctrine is that the faith which justifies, is also a faith which works in love, not so that we can be justified, but because we are already justified.  One who trusts in the merits of Christ is set free to strive to obey the Law of God.  But the religion of the Judaizers, on the other hand, is a religion of fear, doubt, and slavery.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

Monday
Jan142019

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (January 14-January 20)

Sunday Morning, January 20:  Our text this coming Lord's Day is Zechariah 10:1-12, which includes God's promise to gather his exiled people.  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday AfternoonAs we come to the end of our time in the Belgic Confession, we take up the matter of Christ's return (Article 37).  Our afternoon service begins at 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study: (January 16 @ 7:30 p.m.).  We are discussing "making the case for Christianity."  What is the nature of the Christian truth claim?  

Friday Night Academy:  Resumes on Friday, January 25 (note: new start date, due to Winter conference at WSC)

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here Christ Reformed Church, or Christ Reformed on Facebook.

Sunday
Jan132019

"On That Day, Their God Will Save Them" -- Zechariah 9:1-27

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on Zechariah 9, as part of our series on the Minor Prophets:  Zechariah 9:1-17

Thursday
Jan102019

Apologetics in a Post Christian Age (Audio) -- Making the Case for Christianity (Part One)

Here's the audio from the Wednesday night Bible Study: 

"Making the Case for Christianity" -- Part One

Tuesday
Jan082019

"For Freedom" -- Galatians 5:1-6

The Ninth in a Series of Sermons on Galatians

If anything is worth fighting for it is freedom–especially Christian freedom.  In defense of Christian liberty, Paul issues a stern warning to the Galatians.  Anyone who seeks to be justified by obedience to the law of Moses, through receiving circumcision, through keeping of Jewish dietary laws, or observing the Jewish religious calendar will come under God’s curse and fall from grace.  Those who seek to be justified by observing what Paul calls the “basic principles of the world,” place themselves in grave danger.  In Galatians 5:1-6, Paul builds his case against the Judaizers, contrasting their campaign of enslavement to the law with Christian liberty in Christ.

In the first four chapters of Galatians, Paul raised a number of doctrinal matters.  Beginning in chapter 5, we move into what many identify as the “practical section” of this letter, taking up first the important matter of Christian liberty.  While Paul changes focus a bit from doctrine to practice (the application of doctrine to specific situations), the apostle continues to set out clear contrasts between opposing positions.  Paul is quite fond of antithesis (contrast) as a rhetorical critique and he uses it repeatedly.  

Following up his analogy between Hagar and Sarah in Galatians 4:21-4:31, when Paul turned the Jewish understanding of redemptive history on its head, in Galatians 5:1-6, he contrasts faith and works yet again, showing how opposed they are when it comes to the justification of sinners.  To seek to be justified by good works and human merit is to desire theological slavery.  This is a very serious error since Jesus Christ came for the purpose of setting us free from bondage to sin and the law.  In verse 1 of chapter 5 Paul begins with the assertion, “for freedom Christ has set us free.”  This is where the Christian life begins.  We will spend our time fleshing out the meaning of this important assertion in some detail.
 
If obeying the law of Moses as a means of justification is “bondage,” because doing so places one under the law’s demand for perfect obedience thereby making one subject to the law’s curse upon violation of any of its commands, then, it is justification by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone that Paul has in mind when he speaks of freedom.  To be justified (given a “right” standing before God) is to be free from the curse of the law because Christ became a “curse” for us (Gal 3:13).  We are also freed from the yoke of slavery to which law-keeping subjects us.  Jesus came to set us free, not enslave us to the law.  All of the Protestant Reformers agreed upon this point and its importance.  To speak about justification was not enough.  If Christian liberty was not the defining characteristic of the Christian life, then the doctrine of justification was not clearly understood.  

It is highly likely that the Judaizers were asking their converts to take upon themselves the “yoke of the law of Moses” as a means of demonstrating their full commitment to the religion of Israel.  It is also likely that Paul is throwing their own words back at them, calling obedience to law as a means of justification, a yoke of slavery when, in the second half of verse 1, he commands the Galatians “stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  The Rabbinic description of the law as a yoke which the children of Abraham must take upon themselves, may also be behind the meaning of our Lord’s words of comfort in Matthew 11:30–“my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  The freedom of which Paul is speaking is “the freedom belonging to the heir, the natural son, the child of the free woman,” which Paul just set out in the analogy of the preceding verses in which Paul took the proof-texts the Judaizers were using regarding the Abraham story, and showed that these texts actually support Paul’s doctrine of justification.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

Monday
Jan072019

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (January 7-January 13)

Sunday Morning, January 13:  We move deeper into the second half of Zechariah (chapters 9-14)--the so-called "burdens" section.  We will be looking at Zechariah's prophecy of a great king who comes in the name of the Lord (Zechariah 9:1-17).  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday AfternoonWhat is the classic Reformed view about the relationship between Christ and Caesar?  We will take up article 36 of the Belgic Confession dealing with the authority of civil government.  Our afternoon service begins at 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study (Wednesday, January 9, 7:30 p.m.):  We return to our series on Apologetics in a Post Christian Age.  We move into a new section in our course, "making the case for Christianity."  We will tackle "questions of method." 

Friday Night Academy:  Resumes on Friday, January 25 (note: new start date, due to Winter conference at WSC)

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here Christ Reformed Church, or Christ Reformed on Facebook.

Sunday
Jan062019

"I Will Be Your God" -- Zechariah 8:1-23

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on Zechariah from our series on the Minor Prophets

Thursday
Jan032019

"Two Covenants" -- Galatians 4:21-31

The Eighth in a Series of Sermons on Galatians

Although we know him as the Apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus was once the stand out student of the famed Rabbi Gamaliel.  An up and coming Rabbi himself, Saul was well-known throughout the Jewish community in Jerusalem for his zeal for the religion of Israel and his fierce opposition to a new sect called “Christians.”  But after Jesus called Saul to be the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul understands the Bible much differently than he did when a student of Gamaliel.  In his response to the false teachers plaguing the Galatians, the Judaizers now find themselves dealing with a master of demonstrating how Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of the Old Testament messianic expectations of Israel.  In Galatians 4:21-31, Gamaliel’s prized student will reinterpret the course of redemptive history through the lens of the person and work of Jesus.  Paul will explain the relationship between the covenants YHWH made with Abraham and Moses in a way that Gamaliel could never envision, and which demonstrates the Judaizers to be blind guides, not to be followed.

As we have seen from our time in Galatians, Paul has expressed his anger, his amazement, and his sorrow over what was happening to the Galatian Christians.  When he had been in Galatia not long before, recuperating from what seems to been a serious illness effecting his vision, Paul used the opportunity to preach the gospel–or, as he puts it, he publicly placarded Christ.  In his providence, God used Paul’s preaching as the means to call many living in Galatia to faith in Jesus–both Jew and Gentile.  As a result, a number of new churches were established.  The Galatians responded favorably to the gospel and they warmly embraced Paul as a kind of spiritual father.  He led them to a knowledge of the Savior, and they demonstrated great hospitality to him, nursing him back to health.  But soon after leaving the area to continue on with his missionary activity, reports got back to Paul that something was amiss in Galatia.  Wolves entered these churches and were deceptively leading the Galatians astray in great numbers.

These wolves, known to us as the Judaizers, were Jewish converts to Christianity who came to believe that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah, but did not believe that Jesus’ obedient life and sacrificial death were sufficient to save sinners from God’s wrath.  Judaizers taught that Gentile coverts to Christianity must submit to ritual circumcision, keep the Jewish religious calendar and dietary laws, and obey the law of Moses as a means of obtaining or maintaining justification, a “right standing” before God.

According to Paul, the Judaizers were teaching a different gospel which was no gospel at all, and in doing so, placed themselves under God’s curse.  Paul is angry with these false teachers, whom he contends have deceptively entered the Galatian churches and were spying on Gentiles exercising their liberty in Christ.  But when he addresses the Galatians–the same people he led to faith in Christ, and who demonstrated great hospitality to him–Paul is utterly bewildered.  How could these same people turn from following Christ and then allow these deceivers to lead them back into slavery?  Jesus Christ died to set the Galatians free.  But the Judaizers were doing their best to convince them that slavery to the law and “the basic principles of the world,” was somehow better than freedom in Christ.

Making an impassioned appeal to the Galatians not to fall prey to the schemes of these deceivers, Paul explains the overall course of redemptive history and the Old Testament Scriptures (the box-top to the puzzle, so to speak) to illustrate the way in which the Judaizers distorted the proper understanding of God’s saving purposes.  This is theme of our text, verses 21-31 of chapter four.

To read the rest of this sermon: Click Here

Wednesday
Jan022019

Bible and Reformed Confessions Reading Plans for 2019

Christ Reformed folk and readers of this blog often ask me about annual Bible reading plans--especially at the New Year when people endeavor (dare I say it, make a resolution) to be more faithful about Bible reading.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

Ligonier has a great list of plans:  Ligonier Bible Reading Plans

ESV.org has a good list as well:  ESV Bible Reading Plans  

If you read Koine Greek and want to keep your skills sharp, I recommend Lee Irons' plan to read through the Greek text in one year:  Annual Greek NT Reading Plan

If you want to read the Reformed Confessions on a daily basis (and even have a reading from them delivered to you in a daily email) you can go here:  Daily Confession

If you want to do the same with the Westminster Confession, try this:  Daily Westminster

Monday
Dec312018

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (December 31-January 6, 2019)

Sunday Morning, January 6:  We continue our series on the Minor Prophets.  YHWH affirms his great covenant promise throughout the Scriptures -- "I will be your God and you will be my people."  We will consider this promise as it is reaffirmed in our text, Zechariah 8:1-23.  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  What does it mean to feed upon Christ in our hearts through faith? This Lord's Day, we are considering article 35 of the Belgic Confession which deals with the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.  Our afternoon service begins at 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study:  Our series will continue beginning January 9th, 2019, when we take up "making the case for Christianity." 

Friday Night Academy:  Resumes on Friday, January 18

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here Christ Reformed Church, or Christ Reformed on Facebook.